Bahia Honda State Park is not in Key Largo, but if you prefer sun, sand, snorkeling, and swimming, it's worth the drive down US 1 to visit. Situated around Mile Marker 37, the Park is approximately 65 miles or so toward Key West from Key Largo.
The old and new bridge
Between 1912 and 1935, the railroad was the only "overland" route to Key West.
On Labor Day 1935, one of the worst hurricanes to strike the U.S. slammed to the Keys around Islamorada, packing winds of 200 to 250 miles per hour. If the wind speeds seem exaggerated, then that is what the reports have stated. Over 400 people have died in the storm. Based on the reports granted, it was the most dreadful storm conceivable. Aside from the tragic human behavior, the howling winds and 18-foot storm surge put a quick end to Flagler's Miami-to-Key-West railroad.
As opposed to reconstructing the railroad, what was left of it had been converted to the Overseas Highway--a.k.a. US 1--that opened in 1938. The older Railroad Bridge at Bahia Honda was converted to a car bridge and spanning the highway throughout the Keys.
This new bridge is situated a few hundred yards northwest (the street runs east and west in this segment ) of the older bridge.
As a point of curiosity, the lost spans on each end of the old Bahia Honda bridge were not blown away by the ferocious tropical winds but were removed to keep people off the bridge. The rickety old structure has been considered too much of a security hazard.
Snorkeling the Looe Key
If you like off-shore snorkeling, you're in for a treat. Each day the Park runs two snorkel-boat tours out to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary. The morning tour normally leaves at 9:30 AM and the afternoon tour gets underway at 1:30 PM. These times are subject to change with the seasons. You can take your own gear or rent it at the park. Don't let the name fool you. Looe Key is not a piece of land as its name implies, but a coral reef located about seven miles off shore.
Depths on the reef vary from two to 30 feet, and visibility can range from around 15 feet up to 100 feet, depending on weather and sea conditions.
Are pets allowed in Bahai Honda?
Pets are allowed in the Park, but must be well behaved. Some friends brought their dogs, including the most laid-back poodle I've ever known. This dog had a big time case of Keyitis, that lazy, good-for-nothing condition that overcomes you when you stay in the Keys too long. Watch out, it can happen to you.
The Park also has a snack bar serving sandwiches, pizza, salads, ice cream. You can also buy a few groceries there. In addition, there is a gift shop where you can buy swimwear, tee shirts, jewelry, and souvenirs.